Peter Allen Hoffmann is a painter based in Brooklyn, New York. In 2005, he graduated with an MFA from Hunter College. He’s exhibited in Ireland, Germany and throughout the US.
For years and years, I worked in my living room in Harlem. It forced me to keep things clean and tidy. This studio is dirty, for me. It’s about creating a space that I’m comfortable in so I can make the mental jump to something difficult. It’s stabilizing, but it’s also not distracting. The key is to not be distracted by anything.
There’s certainly an historical element to my work. I’ve repeated a painting of a skull from Courbet’s Artist Studio four times. If you look at the painting, they’re all pointing at it. I got fascinated with the painting when I first moved to New York because my studio at grad school didn’t have a window or any natural light.
I found painting landscapes inside to be an interesting point of departure. I was doing 6×6 paintings based off the concept that your wingspan is your height. There’s a sense of one-to-one between your physical self and the painting–measuring space by your own physicality.
When I graduated, I felt like I was putting a lot of stuff out into the world. I gave up 6×6 and went to 1×1. It became about your head as a space and how you read spaces, as opposed to your entire body. I was looking for something more intimate than what I was seeing around. Being in the city, I wanted to find something slower and make it more personal. You can’t look at two faces at once, right?
I’m a total paint snob. When you make paintings this small, you can be. Old Holland is the nicest paint you can buy in a tube. I started buying the white because cheaper brands of white don’t mix with colours as well. It does this weird separation thing. It gets gooey and chalky and literally looks like it’s separating. I was fed up! I went and bought the most expensive white I could find. Once you use it, it’s like crack. Everything else is garbage.
I have an obsession with buying old keyboards. I like making noise–I’m interested in the science of sound. When I got out of grad school, I decided that I needed a hobby because art can’t be your hobby too. Art functions somewhat as a hobby but it’s not a release the way a hobby is.
-Peter Allen Hoffmann, as told to Studio Beat.
Photos by Courtney Vokey